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Facebook Messenger’s hidden football game is strangely addictive

The Guardian // 17th June 2016

Powered by Guardian.co.ukThis article titled “Facebook Messenger’s hidden football game is strangely addictive” was written by Samuel Gibbs, for theguardian.com on Thursday 16th June 2016 10.19 UTC

Facebook has an aptly timed new hidden game within its Messenger app that challenges you to a surprisingly difficult and addictive game of keepie uppie.

To start the game, make sure you’re using the latest version of the dedicated Facebook Messenger app on either Android or iOS; start a conversation with either a friend or group; send the football emoji (not a sticker) to the group or friend and then tap it – and the game begins.

The idea is simple: keep the ball in the air by tapping it. But it’s strangely addictive, not dissimilar to a static Flappy Bird. My current best is 16, which I managed once and haven’t been able to get close to again.

The hidden football Easter egg is just one of several fun casual games built into the app by Facebook. Others include a basketball game, which you activate in the same way as the keepie uppie game but with the basketball emoji. A chess game activated by typing “@fbchess play” and then telling @fbchess which piece you want to move to where using abbreviated names of the pieces and the grid square you’d like them to move to. It’s the classic chess notation, so: “K” for king, “Q” for queen, “B” for bishop, “N” for knight, “R” for rook and “P” for pawn.

@fbchess
Facebook Messenger’s @fbchess game. Photograph: Samuel Gibbs for the Guardian

These games are another feature of Facebook’s push to make Messenger its own platform, filled with things that keep people coming back to have fun with friends, and create another billion-user platform separate to its social network.

Of all Facebook’s other apps and platforms, such as WhatsApp and Instagram, Messenger is the hardest sell as something that should be separate from the main Facebook experience. But fun features such as games, stickers and various third-party apps that allow users to do anything from doodling to shooting stylised photos make it a more compelling offering in the face of competition from Snapchat and others.

Even Apple recently announced it was making its iMessages service and Messages app more like Facebook Messenger with animations, doodles, photos and gifs.

guardian.co.uk © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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